Since its inception, e-commerce has had two major problems, one on the supply side and one on the demand side.
In the offer part, the merchants had a technical barrier, the configuration and start-up of an online store was not an easy task. On the demand side, the problem was that there was little customer base and also little confidence in online commerce.
Time has passed and the two problems have been reduced in such a way that we can say without fear of being wrong, that e-commerce is a sector that is boiling and that will have an upward trajectory for years.
If ten years ago there were layers of the population completely removed from what the Internet and the Internet mean, with the appearance and the progressive reduction in cost of devices such as smartphones and tablets, today it is difficult to find people who do not surf or use the Internet. Technology in your day to day.
This, together with the greater security of payments that current online payment systems allow and the greater knowledge on the subject, has caused the potential clientele to be all strata of the population in practically every country in the world.
This part is clear, but this article is not about the growth of electronic commerce, nor does it say reasons why today we could say that it is a safe bet. All this is true and is one more reason to build an online store using WooCommerce and WordPress.
The technological barrier that used to exist to create an online store could be said to have practically disappeared and that we have a stable, robust, versatile system and, above all, very easy to use and that does its role very well.
I have been preparing WooCommerce stores for more than two years and I assure you that in addition to being a software that leaves everyone very satisfied, entering the technical part it can be customized to the extreme and the update rate, version by version, is fast and the obvious improvements.
What is WooCommerce?
If you read this blog, many of you will already know what WordPress is, but it never hurts to remember it. WordPress is an open source content management system and the undisputed leader within this type of system. One of the features of WordPress is that it is easily extensible and modifiable both in functionality and appearance, thanks to the plugins and themes.
As I already commented in an entry in this same blog a few months ago, WordPress is used for much more than creating a blog and WooCommerce is one of the most popular exponents of this statement.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin in charge of turning your site into an online store. Although it is relatively young, since its first version was released in 2011, today it is the most downloaded plugin to turn WordPress into an online store. To see the degree of diffusion it has achieved, I list some data:
- The main branch is already in new version and among the latest news, comment that it already has a REST API to create other applications, for example mobile applications, with WooCommerce as the base.
- It is free and it is also free.
- In August of this year, 2014, it reached 4 million downloads, a not inconsiderable figure.
- According to data collected by Builtwith(click on “The Entire Internet” to see global data), worldwide it is the most widely used electronic commerce system in the world , with current data the percentage of use over the total is 17 ,. 7% followed by Magento by 9.94%.
- There are currently an estimated 400,000 active WooCommerce installations across the network.
- Such is the size and importance of WooCommerce, that its own plugins have been created for it, that is, WordPress plugins exclusively for WooCommerce, which we call addons.
- Thanks to its addons and other WordPress plugins like WPML, it can be fully internationalized, including as many languages as we want.
With these figures, you can get an idea of the importance of this project within the Internet and electronic commerce.
WooCommerce is clearly very popular, but why? Let’s see the compelling reasons behind this reality.
It’s inside WordPress
That WooCommerce is within WordPress means that to all the power of WooCommerce you add what you already have in WordPress. The most important:
- You have a blog natively, an excellent tool to do content marketing
- All free and high-quality WordPress SEO tools serve you for your online store
- The interaction with social networks is already integrated
- You can convert your online store or integrate it into something much bigger and different all on the same platform: a forum with bbPress or even a social network with BuddyPress
- There are many graphic aspects, many of them free and others premium, the so-called themes
- All WordPress plugins, free or premium, serve you , you will almost always find a plugin for every need you have
- If you have managed WordPress you will feel “at home”
- Community: abundant and very vital, you will find a multitude of people willing to help you and companies willing to get you out of trouble.
Easy to install, configure and use
The WordPress desktop is the place where we will carry out all the operations. The installation of an online store can be carried out based on clicks, without knowing anything about programming and without complex protocols.
Once the store is installed, a process that we will see below, we can already include products, create categories for them or configure taxes and shipping costs. Everything is prepared to be able to use the store almost immediately and without requiring prior knowledge.
My own online store with WooCommerce
Nothing better than taking action to see firsthand all this that I tell you. The first thing we need to have is a working WordPress site, it must be self-hosted (with its own hosting), some know it for having a «wordpress.org», that is, it is not worth a free WordPress.com blog since in this option you can’t install plugins like this.
The access that we must have is the site administrator, if it is a blog network, we can also be super administrators. If you do not know how to take this initial step, I recommend that you read this book, which although I wrote it a long time ago is still valid for this work, or follow this workshop.
WooCommerce is a free plugin and as is often the case with free plugins, it can be installed through the WordPress plugin repository. To do this, on our desktop we go to «Plugins», «Add new» and in the fantastic search engine that WordPress new version has released, we introduce «woocommerce», at the top left, in the first position it should appear:
We click on “Install now” and then the system will show us a dialog that we must accept. It is possible that your installation asks you for FTP data (although it is not general) if so, ask in the comments and I will tell you how to solve it. The plugin will be installed and now we will have to activate it, after installation we will see a link with the title «Activate this plugin» that we will press and then it will take us to the cover of the «Plugins» section.
If you look, a message has appeared above informing us if we want to install WooCommerce pages. It is not mandatory but we will. After all, we can do it later, but since the process can be automatic, we take advantage of it.
The message is “Install WooCommerce pages” (or its Spanish translation) and after clicking on it, it will create the pages and take us to the WooCommerce cover page where the latest version will appear. We have everything ready to start configuring the system. In WordPress 4.0 you should have no problems with the Spanish translation of the plugin, if you have problems with language issues, ask in the comments.
WooCommerce Basic Settings
We already want to see our store but before we have to do a minimum configuration to be able to use it. We go to the “WooCommerce” menu and in there, to the “Settings” tab.
The options are abundant and if we install plugins for more advanced configurations they will be even more abundant, but let’s focus on the basics: in “General” we change our location, the currency, as well as the symbols used to separate thousands and decimals. The rest we can leave as is.
As you can see the appearance of the WooCommerce manager is the same as that of WordPress, so the tabs, the way to manage products, categories, etc. they will be very familiar to you.
Add a product
We are already in a position to add a product. The way to edit the data of a product is the same as that of the pages and entries. It is the magic of WooCommerce. In fact, internally, the products are stored in the same table, but that is a technical issue that we will not go into, but I will comment so that you can get an idea of the degree of integration.
We access “Products”, “Add product” and there we insert the data:
- Where is the title of the entry, we put the name of the product
- In the body, the description of it
- In the featured image place, we will choose the image we want to represent the product
- Below in the custom fields area we will have the product information, there are many details but for the test I have chosen that it is a virtual product , downloadable and with a price of € 19.95
- Being a downloadable product, I upload a file (the CODECTION logo , the same one that I have used as a product image) to finish the test, assign its name and upload the file
- Finally we create a category and assign tags just like we would do with a blog post
- We ended up publishing the product
My first walk through my online store
We already have the article published and we are ready to take our first walk through our online store. Although the structure can be complicated to adapt to the taste of customers, a basic WooCommerce store has:
- A page beginning with the list of products
- The page of each product
- The cartpage with the cart of products ready to be paid
- The car check page and where we give the data as customers, finish purchase
- A basic customer profile page where the user’s data appears, with their shipping and billing address
Make a purchase
From the previous point, we have gone from being site administrators to being clients. The purchase process is as simple as:
- Add to cart the product
- Access the cart
- Give “Go to the checkout”
- Fill in the billing details, or log in, and the payment method
- Validate the payment and ready, sold product, what is easy?
Manage a purchase
As it is a downloadable product, the link will reach the customer and the administrator will be notified of the sale. It’s that simple. If it were a non-downloadable product and had to be physically shipped, the customer would also have chosen the shipping method and the administrator in the “WooCommerce” desktop menu, under the “Orders” option, could manage the order.
The way is analogous to how products are managed and you can find the different states through which the order has passed and the detail thereof.
Not all that glitters is gold
I like to be objective in everything I write and this time it couldn’t be less. As I said, I have seen shops of all kinds with WooCommerce: from festivals that sell tickets using the system to the typical craft store, through self-help sites that sell courses.
A selection of problems to highlight:
- Stock management is unique and you cannot keep two stocks, your own and that of the distributor to give two delivery dates, for example 2 days if you have enough stock, 5 days if you have to go to the supplier and 15 days.
- For some courier companies there are no plugins similar to the one they provide. For example,
- The calculation of shipping prices if it is not basic can be complicated. A basic method would be: free shipping from so many euros and for so many euros for discounts. With a complex one I mean different prices by province and taking into account variables such as weight or refrigeration needs.
Tell you that I have read and heard people say that some useful plugins are paid and I do not deny it, but I must also tell you that unlike the competition, Magento and Prestashop mainly, there are many WordPress plugins and WooCommerce addons free and in the case of competition is not so frequent.
To finish we recommend from here that you set up an online store with WooCommerce as soon as you can if you like this world of the network and even more if you have something to sell to everyone. I hope your comments and doubts!
And in this task, the post that continues this article and that explains in detail with creating and configuring a WooCommerce store that has everything you need in a well-assembled store will come in handy: